The CONNECT! Blog and CONNECT! Community set out with an express purpose of reminding people (including myself!) to get and stay connected with the people who matter most to them. In a wired world, that isn’t always easy to do. But, at least with others, we have options and ways to engage via text, e-mail, phone, Skype, in person and so on.
Sometimes, I think, the hardest person to stay connected with is my own self. I must not be alone in feeling this way. After all, books and talk shows abound to help us view ourselves in a positive manner, to reconnect with our “true authentic self,” and to help us re-center.
Connecting with yourself includes taking care of yourself. We’ve all heard the importance of staying strong in mind, body and spirit so we can be strong for our loved ones when they need us. I’ve been reminded many times of the analogy to put my own oxygen mask on first (like they instruct in pre-flight) so I can be better able to help others do the same.
Building authentic connections with others requires creating that "self connection" first. But connecting with yourself means something in addition to taking care of yourself. It encompasses knowing yourself and being true to yourself and honoring who you are and what you believe. When we get caught up in the day-to-day juggling of competing demands, we may set aside what matters most to us. In doing so, we lose a piece of who we are.
Think about how you identify yourself. It may be by job title or by attachment to someone else or something else. In some circles, I am “Austin’s Mom” or “Kinley’s wife” or “author” or “consultant” or “group leader” or “neighbor.” Others identify us contextually, adjacent to whatever their own experience with us may be.
The danger is in thinking narrowly of yourself in the same ways. You may be proud and honored to carry certain titles. For me, being a Christian, a Mom, a Wife and a Business Owner are all titles I am delighted to have. But even all together they don’t express who I am. They are, after all, just titles. And different people interpret those titles to mean different things.
Connecting to who I am requires me to be introspective at times and to challenge myself. I was reminded of that recently when I stumbled across the Diary I kept when I was in the third grade. Reading through it was restorative. I felt like I had collected back a little bit of me.
Sure, there were lots of silly little anecdotes recorded that were meaningless when weighed against the whole of my years and experiences since then. But what I discovered in reading those inconsequential little stories is that, by and large, I care about the same things now that I did all those years ago. I found my sympathies and indignations and joys tend to be triggered by the same sorts of encounters then and now.
I also realized that I was not always supported then in what I responded to – my personality style and priorities didn’t always match those of the people around me. So I felt a bit lonely or confused at times. I didn’t even know how to express it as I wrote in that Diary. But it’s clear that I felt conflicted, pondering why my feelings didn’t match others’ feelings.
I’ve learned enough since then to understand and respect those kinds of differences and to be confident and comfortable with my own feelings. Even so, there are times when that familiar old feeling of being misunderstood resurfaces. Reading the words my 10-year-old self wrote about those times and feelings was a validation that this is a part of who I am and always have been. That reconnection bolstered me and enabled me to feel a certain wholeness that only comes from within.
Keep connecting with the people and priorities that matter most to you! When you are ready to CONNECT! for professional and personal development, count on People First Productivity Solutions. We offer coaching, leadership development programs and resources for companies and for individuals. Join the CONNECT! Community on LinkedIn or Facebook.